New Series: Part II of Leadership for the 21st Century
11 Dec, 2012
Fundamental transformation has four basic dimensions: it is irreversible, it challenges traditional assumptions, it changes your identity, and it shifts the purpose of the organization. The model we have in mind leads a person through several stages of transformational change.
In part I we discussed traditional leadership development being focused on the individual level and how most formal programs consist of similar elements, such as experiential learning and developing a clear vision and how to communicate the vision effectively.
We suggested readers should consider new ways of thinking about leadership development.
We believe that a leadership development program for experienced managers can be designed to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding that will enable them to move their organizations towards relevance and sustainability for the next decade.
The basic assumption we hold is that organizations cannot become relevant and sustainable until their leaders develop the mental flexibility and competencies necessary to deal with the uncertainties of the future. This new program is not a traditional change management program.
This is about transformation — not transactions.
Fundamental transformation has four basic dimensions: it is irreversible, it challenges traditional assumptions, it changes your identity, and it shifts the purpose of the organization. The model we have in mind leads a person through several stages of transformational change. (Note: This is the same evolutionary model we used in the previous chapter on changing purpose.)
• Launch: What is it that I am so anxious about?
• Connection: Is it me or is everyone else around here crazy?
• Dividing: What do I need to serve that is larger than me?
• Agreement: What mental state do I need to be in?
• Approaching: What help do I need and where do I go get it?
• Dismissal: How to get rid of the old baggage?
• Achievement: Waking up
What are the new skills and abilities embedded in this program? We group them into three basic categories: functional, expressive and motivational skills. Specially, they are defined as:
Spirituality and change: An understanding, appreciation and acceptance of the spiritual aspects of life. Service is in the interest of others and the community they are members of. They have appreciation of the principle of “stewardship” resources and the environment.
In summary, a leadership development program for the 21st century consists of seven stages of transformation change, which contain 12 discrete new competencies, or skill sets. Briefly, they are:
- Future thinking: The ability to anticipate events in the larger context of your business. Future thinkers have the ability to do “what if” scenarios in a three to five year timeframe. For example, what would be the impact on your business if energy prices quadrupled?
- Drivers of change: The ability to recognize the multi-disciplinary nature of change. Drivers of change have a broad perspective of the elements that shape human behavior in both rational and irrational ways including technology, economics, politics and cultural aspects.
- New patterns of action: Leaders have the ability to move beyond simple “cause and effect” relationships. They have the ability to visualize alternative organizational structures and forms and also an understanding of the utility of using different forms in different situations.
- Design processes: An understanding of design as a process that can be consciously applied in changing situations. Knowledge of how to move from a wide array of configurations to a smaller set of options using functionality, cost and aesthetic filters.
- Asking questions: An ability to engage in critical thinking is the ability to know what the critical questions are to ask as you move up a hierarchy of “unreflective thinker” to “master thinker.” Inquisitive leaders know and understand how to apply universal intellectual standards.
- Systems thinking: Seeing the pattern that connects. Systems relationships include feedback, feed forward, attenuation, and amplification. They understand the links between environment, internal operations and information flows.
- Balance, flow and circularity: An understanding of the pattern to the flow of energy (including information); the ability to balance positive and negative forces and their reconciliation. The capacity to understand a larger context the leader and the organization is connected.
- Living out leadership: Everyday living out the principles of leadership: integrity of action. They demonstrate empathy, loyalty, and discretion in action; living out high moral and ethical standards.
- Spirituality and change: An understanding, appreciation and acceptance of the spiritual aspects of life. Service is in the interest of others and the community they are members of. They have appreciation of the principle of “stewardship” resources and the environment.
- Presence of self: Understanding how others view you in action while also living in the moment. A sense of the dramatic and ability of actions and words to influence others attitudes and shape their behavior.
- Transformation: An understanding, and a sincere desire, for what is required to fundamentally change. Never going back, never looking the same, having a different fundamental identity and being in service. They tune into their calling.
Part III of the series “Leadership for the 21st Century” will outline leadership development programs that incorporate universal issues, and provide examples of coming challenges and a playbook for implementation.
Click here to learn more about ForeSight 2025.
Illustration by master isolated images at Free Digital Photos.net